Elon Musk Has Hopes For Manned Mars Trip
August 10, 2012

SpaceX Founder Dreams Of A Manned Mars Mission

Lee Rannals for redOrbit.com - Your Universe Online

SpaceX founder Elon Musk says he hopes to be able to put man on Mars within the next 12 to 15 years.

Musk told Nightline in an interview that he was confident this task could be completed. His words come just a few days after NASA landed its Curiosity rover successfully on the Red Planet this past Sunday night.

SpaceX became the first commercial company to send a spacecraft up to the International Space Station for docking. Its Dragon capsule successfully docked with the orbiting laboratory earlier this year, kick-starting a new form of space industry.

The company's Dragon capsule is capable of transforming from just a supply ship, to taking astronauts to and from space.

"The rockets we're building right now could certainly send probes to Mars, like the Mars rovers and that kind of thing," he told Nightline. "But the rockets we hope to build in the future are the ones that could take people and cargo to Mars and establish a Martian base."

He said that he hopes one day SpaceX could make it possible for people to thrive there, and establish businesses there.

"Mars is the only place in the solar system where it's possible for life to become multi-planetarian," Musk said. "We could make Mars like Earth“¦it's more than our life raft, it's like backing up the biosphere."

As much as Musk was a visionary in the interview, he still admitted that making a trip to Mars affordable for the average American was difficult.

"We know it's possible to get there," he said. "You would be moving to Mars, so a round trip ticket, it has to be no more than half a million dollars, so roughly, a middle-class house in California, and at this point, I would say, I know it's possible."

"I think it would be the most difficult thing that humanity has ever tried to do," Musk told Nightline. "The Earth has been around for four billion years and in all that time, it's been confined to one planet. That's a long time."

Musk isn't the only one who has dreams of astronauts landing on the surface of Mars. President Barack Obama set out a goal for NASA to have man step foot on the Red Planet by the 2030s.

The latest Curiosity mission has made that goal seem more achievable, by showing a complicated landing on another planet is doable.

Whether NASA and SpaceX have official plans to collaborate on sending man to Mars remains unclear, but what is clear is there is a successful relationship that has been established between the two organizations.

After the success of the Dragon capsule docking, NASA has awarded SpaceX with even more contracts to send cargo to the space station. It could be only a matter of time before contracts start being drawn up to send astronauts on deeper space missions aboard a converted Dragon capsule.